shalit - Tomer Appelbaum - June 27 2011
Family and supporters of captive soldier Gilad Shalit outside the Prime Minister’s Bureau in Jerusalem marking five years since he was seized. Photo by Tomer Appelbaum
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Now it's clear: The Israel Defense Forces has decided to strengthen its ties with the Almighty. It can't hurt, and maybe it will help. Not only "May God remember," but also "Birkat Hagomel" (the blessing of thanksgiving ) next to the Western Wall at the end of a military stint in Gaza and its outlying area, as military correspondent Carmela Menashe reported yesterday. Instead of traveling home, the Jewish missionaries take you first to Mount Moriah, to recite "Blessed are Thou, Lord Our God, King of the universe, Who bestows good to sinners, even as he has bestowed to me all good" - and the listeners, in army uniforms, answer "Amen."

Gilad Shalit's fate is in the hands of the Almighty; he, too, will be remembered by him some day. If, despite everything, he returns home alive, Shalit will be snatched first by the IDF rabbinate and taken to a holy site, as if to prove there is a God, who saved Shalit in the wink of an eye, after five years.

I have recently asked myself: Who is more credible, Shalit's grandfather or the defense minister? From time to time, I converse with the grandfather, Zvi, on the phone; I don't have the impression that he is a dishonest sort. And why should he lie, since it suffices to tell the truth about Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak; the truth convicts them.

The minister denies saying this or that, claims he didn't say "at any price" - but who needs even to use that term, when the price for Shalit's release is well defined and has been public knowledge for some time?

The government, with all its wiles, advises the family to pressure Hamas - not it. We are not the "address" you want, says the government; stop badgering us needlessly. This government lament contains an element of truth: It is easier to make a fuss about the cruelty of President Obama's attitude toward Jonathan Pollard, than it is to do soul-searching about the cruelty exercised locally toward a captive IDF soldier who has been "buried alive" for five years, as Shalit's father put it at a press conference yesterday.

But we're not dealing with sentiment: Our business is security, and compassion is not part of its jurisdiction. I tell my students that national security is primarily a function of national morale, and of the confidence the public has in its civil and military leadership. Were Gilad to return in a coffin, it would not repair the ruin left by his situation. Who will trust such leaders, who will fight under their order, when national morale is at half-mast? If not for him and his family, then do it for the sake of security - and free Gilad right now, in the name of God.